New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that adult obesity prevalence is increasing and adults with obesity are at heightened risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19. The ‘2019 Adult Obesity Prevalence Maps’ show that twelve states (Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia) now have an adult obesity prevalence at or above 35%, an increase from nine states in 2018 and six states in 2017.
The maps breaks down adult obesity prevalence by race, ethnicity, and location (Figure 1) based on self-reported height and weight data. Combined data from 2017-2019 show notable racial and ethnic disparities:
- 34 states and the District of Columbia had an obesity prevalence of 35% or higher among non-Hispanic Black adults.
- 15 states had an obesity prevalence of 35% or higher among Hispanic adults.
- six states had an obesity prevalence of 35% or higher among non-Hispanic White adults.
The surgery revealed obesity decreased by level of education - adults without a high school degree or equivalent had the highest self-reported obesity (36.2%), followed by high school graduates (34.3%), adults with some college (32.8%) and college graduates (25.0%).
- Young adults were half as likely to have obesity as middle-aged adults. Adults aged 18-24 years had the lowest self-reported obesity (18.9%), compared to adults aged 45-54 years who had the highest prevalence (37.6%).
- All states and territories had more than 20% of adults with obesity.
- 20% to less than 25% of adults had obesity in one state (Colorado) and the District of Columbia.
- 25% to less than 30% of adults had obesity in 13 states.
- 30% to less than 35% of adults had obesity in 23 states, Guam and Puerto Rico.
- The Midwest (33.9%) and South (33.3%) had the highest prevalence of obesity, followed by the Northeast (29.0%), and the West (27.4%).
In addition to the maps, CDC has released a summary statement on obesity and race and ethnicity as related to COVID-19 risk. Highlights from this summary statement:
- Obesity worsens outcomes from COVID-19, increasing the risk of severe illness, hospitalisation and death.
- Obesity disproportionately impacts some racial and ethnic minority groups who are also at increased risk of COVID-19.
- These disparities underscore the need to remove barriers to healthy living and ensure that communities support a healthy, active lifestyle for all.
- While system and environment changes can take time, we can take small steps now to maintain or improve our health and protect ourselves during this pandemic.
- Being active and eating a healthy diet can support optimal immune function and help prevent or manage chronic diseases that worsen outcomes from COVID-19.
- These actions, as well as getting enough sleep and finding healthy ways to cope with stress can help with weight maintenance and improve overall health.
For more information, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/s0917-adult-obesity-increasing.html